The 2022 Class A Boys State Basketball Tournament gets underway Tuesday. Each year at the state tournament the storylines are endless. Here are some nuggets from each team.
No. 1 seed Millard North (23-2) won the school’s first boys basketball state championship in 2021 after reaching the final in 2020. The Mustangs played seven games against the state tournament field. Their two losses, Omaha Westside and Bellevue West. The Mustangs defeated Omaha Central, Omaha Westside and Creighton Prep.
No. 8 seed Elkhorn South (16-8) is making their first state appearance as a Class A school. The school’s most recent appearance was in Class B in 2017. The Storm have won five in a row and will look to avenge a 57-47 loss Feb. 4 loss to Millard North in the quarterfinals. Junior Alec Noonan is the son of former NFL first round draft pick Danny Noonan and Julie (Hays) Noonan. Julie still ranks among the state leaders in career points scored (1,415) at Osceola. His aunt, Cindy scored 2,077 points at Osceola and has the state’s single game record (65) as well as has three of the top six single game points scored on the state’s record chart.
No. 4 seed Gretna (18-6) won 56-50 at No. 5 seed Omaha Central (19-7) on Jan. 28. The Dragons have wins over five of the state tournament qualifiers. This is their first appearance at the state tournament as a Class A school and first since 2018. The Dragons have five state championships in the school’s history, most recently 2017 and 2018 in Class B.
The 2022 state tournament will be head coach Eric Behrens’ last state tournament with the Eagles. Next year, Behrens will be the athletic director at Westview High School, one of the two new high schools Omaha Public Schools is opening. Behrens has led the Eagles to seven state titles including an unprecedented four straight (2010-13). The Eagles are 3-6 this season in games played against the state tournament field.
Bellevue West (23-2), the tournament’s No. 2 seed has 10 state finals appearances this century and four of the last five, winning it all in 2020. Winners of 13 straight, the T-Birds have the longest winning streak in the field.
Lincoln Pius X
Lincoln Pius X (18-7) earned the No. 7 seed with the Bolts district final road win over Papillion-La Vista South. Their reward, a Bellevue West team that played about as perfect as a high school team can play the first time the two teams played on Dec. 11 winning 95-68.
Omaha Westside (24-2) spent most of the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the state. The No. 3 seed Warriors will look to win their first state championship since 1980 and advance to their first final since 2014. Westside is 6-2 against state qualifying teams, their two losses were to Millard North in the opening weekend of the season and Gretna the last week of the regular season.
The 2022 state tournament is the eighth in a row and fifteenth of that last 20 for the No. 6 seed Creighton Prep (17-7). The Jr. Jays have won three titles since 2000 (2009, 2015 and 2018). Prep has played six games against the 2022 field losing all six.